Meet the Presenters for Cancer Preventive Lifestyle Behaviors: Why You Should Talk to Your Clients Now

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the Cancer Preventative Lifestyle Behaviors webinar Dr. Berg and Dr. Rafie share guidelines on nutrition, physical activity, and weight management for cancer prevention.

photo of Dr Berg
Alison Berg, PhD, RDN

Dr. Alison Berg
https://www.fcs.uga.edu/people/bio/aclune
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
University of Georgia, Department of Foods and Nutrition

Dr. Berg is an Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist. Her research involves evaluating community education programs to improve nutrition for the prevention and management of chronic disease, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. As the State Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist, she leads nutrition education programming delivered by Extension agents in Georgia in the areas of disease prevention and health maintenance throughout the lifespan. In addition, Dr. Berg has experience in school nutrition, public health, senior centers, and weight loss intervention research for overweight and obese older women. She answers questions below about her background and career so far at UGA.

photo of Dr Rafie
Carlin Rafie, PhD, RD

Dr. Carlin Rafie
https://www.hnfe.vt.edu/people/gpf/rafie.html
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension

My personal and professional journey has provided me a rich and diverse set of experiences and skills.  I received my Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Biology and Food, Nutrition & Institution Administration from Oklahoma State University, in the Midwest of the United States. Upon graduating, I moved to Honduras, Central America where I spent the first fourteen years of my professional career. The underdeveloped nature of the field of dietetics and nutrition in the country afforded me many professional opportunities that I would not have had in the U.S. I consulted with hospitals to establish food service policies and procedures, and to provide patient dietary counseling. I owned and managed a nutrition consultation service and health food store, served as consultant to Weight Watchers in Central America, and lectured at schools, universities, businesses, community organizations, and medical associations on various nutrition topics. I returned to the U.S. in 2001, where I worked as a renal dietitian and completed my doctoral degree in Dietetics and Nutrition at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Upon receiving my degree, I took a position as the Director of Clinical Research Affiliates for the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia. In this position I oversaw the establishment of a new clinical research network with community oncology practices to extend  cancer prevention, control, and therapeutic research into the communities of Virginia. In 2015, I took my current position as an Extension Specialist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

My early research investigated factors impacting disease progression and quality of life of HIV+ drug users from marginalized communities.  Significant contributions included a description of the cardiovascular disease profiles of this population group and the relationship to HIV medications, biological markers of CVD and inflammation, co-infections and oxidative stress.  In addition, I investigated the relationship between access to care and quality of life of this population. The work for my dissertation looked specifically at the impact of drug and alcohol use on HIV disease progression and the mechanisms of this relationship. My more recent scientific investigation focuses on community based participatory methods for the evaluation of community health knowledge, resources, and needs, and responsive program development.  While at the Massey Cancer Center, these investigations focused on cancer as the primary health issue, and resulted in the description of barriers to cancer care in minority communities, including African Americans and people of Hispanic origin, and the development of innovative approaches to reducing those barriers.  In addition, I have participated in research to investigate the relationship of lifestyle behaviors in cancer survivors to quality of life and biomarkers.  In my current position as an Extension Specialist, I am leading community-based efforts to bring chronic disease prevention and control evidence-based programs to diverse communities through Cooperative Extension, and evaluate their implementation and effectiveness.  Diabetes, cancer, and substance misuse prevention and control programs are my current areas of focus.

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